October 01, 2009
How To

Incentives, Re-engagement and Newsletter Content: 3 Email Tips from our Recent Summit

SUMMARY: We’re just back from MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit, where we heard a host of great tactics and case studies that can apply to all marketers -- whether you’re targeting businesses or consumers.

Here are three email-specific tips from the event that apply to all marketers managing email programs. Includes case study takeaways on using incentives to boost response rates and re-engaging unresponsive subscribers. Plus, we share research data on whether newsletter subscribers are receiving content that’s relevant to them.
Email is the backbone of one-on-one communications between companies and customers, so it’s no surprise that many of the cornerstone tactics apply whether you are a B2C or B2B marketer.

During our B2B Marketing Summit held last week in San Francisco, we paid special attention to the discussion of email marketing tactics to uncover lessons that translate across industries. Below, you’ll find case study examples and new data to inspire your next email test or help with your planning for 2010.

Here are three Summit tips that are applicable to any email marketer:

Tip #1. Test a smaller, guaranteed prize vs. a chance to win a big prize

Incentives and contests are a great way to improve the response to an email campaign, but there’s an ongoing debate over the best approach to incentives. Should you give everyone a small prize for participating, like a gift card, or offer respondents a chance to win a significant prize, like a vacation or a large sum of money?

Erin Daly,Enterprise Marketing Program Manager, PTC, found that a smaller, guaranteed reward was much more effective at generating response.

She shared a case study on using two different incentives to encourage participation in email survey requests:
o One survey request email offered all respondents a $10 Lowe’s gift card for their participation
o Another survey request offered all respondents the chance to win an expensive mattress set

The gift-card offer resulted in a 467% lift in response rate.

"If the incentive is ‘You can win a car,’ I’m thinking, ‘I’m not going to win that car,’" said Daly. "If the incentive is ‘You get a $10 Starbucks gift card,’ I know I’m getting that gift card, and I’m much more likely to respond."

Of course, guaranteeing everyone a $10 gift card can be challenging when mailing to a huge list. But for smaller, targeted sends -- such as survey requests or trialing a smaller, rented list for an opt-in campaign -- consider testing a guaranteed benefit vs. a contest entry.

Tip #2. Re-engage inactive subscribers

Most marketers are interested in communicating with subscribers who’ve shown an active interest in their products and a propensity to buy. That strategy makes sense, but there often are thousands of inactive subscribers in your database who will respond to an overture to resume communication.

Dave Wieneke, Director, Digital Marketing, Sokolove Law, shared his take on lead re-engagement by describing a simple campaign to re-engage previously qualified buyers who had stopped responding to the company’s email campaigns.

By offering a simple news announcement and prize for re-registering for email, his team achieved 44% opt-in rate from non-responders who opened the re-engagement email. Then, they could resume communication with those contacts through new marketing offers, such as special sales discounts.

"Your great opportunity for growth is in people who are not spending, and they’re being left aside," said Wieneke.

Tip #3. Determine whether your newsletter has a "relevance gap"

Providing relevant content to subscribers is essential for a successful email newsletter program. But the content that marketers believe is relevant often isn’t received that way by its intended audience.

Stu Richards, CEO, Bredin Business Information, presented new research on how SMBs view email newsletters from their vendors and other businesses. His team’s data found a big gap between the relevance subscribers expect from their newsletters, and what they’re getting:

- 82% of subscribers said receiving information relevant to their industries was very important.

- But only 56% of newsletter recipients said the newsletters they receive provide information that is relevant to their industries.

Although the survey was conducted with a B2B audience, it’s a good a reminder that you can never be complacent about your email newsletter content. To make sure you’re providing subscribers with information relevant to their needs, make sure you check in with them periodically.

Consider convening a focus group of email subscribers, or conduct an email survey (using a small, guaranteed incentive!), to take stock of your newsletter content and find areas for improvement in the coming year.

Useful links related to this article:

MarketingSherpa hosts the 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit in Boston on October 5-6

MarketingSherpa’s 5th Annual Email Marketing Summit takes place Jan. 20-22 in Miami

Bredin Business Information


Sokolove Law

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